Bountiful spring borders

Last spring we only had a few shrubs in this border, so we spent ages last autumn planting various tulips, narcissi, gorgeous old fashioned wallflowers, and many more. What an ambundance of varieties and colours!

My lack of wordpress posts is because of necessary weeding, deadheading, pruning and planting whilst my husband designs new borders and features. It is wonderful to be serenaded by the birds and bees. There are quite a few butterflies about too, the yellow, tourtoiseshell and the painted lady so far.

I hope you are out in your gardens enjoying spring and if it is still cold where you live, I hope my photos cheer you up.


‘Slumber’ a moment captured in pastel

After my husband leaves home for his office, the dogs find one of our many cosy chairs and fall Iinto a deep slumber. I usually sit, enjoying the birdsong outside and reading, writing my poetry, catching up with my nature diary, or sketching. Today, instead of using a drawing pen or charcoal I picked up a dark grey hard pastel. Gently I tried to capture the essence of my border collie, the muddle of soft fur, tucked into the plump folds of the cushion and herringbone wool covered armchair. I loved the way her wispy tail curled around her. I had to work quickly because I knew she would stretch out her paw or move her head slightly. With every few deep breaths of the warm, ccomfortable dog, I gradually built up the tones and strokes to form her likeness. It is always difficult to know when the drawing is finished, but I focused on capturing the essence of  my dog deep in slumber.I hope you enjoy looking at her and relaxing.

Delicious festive easy dessert

I used to make Boodle’s  fool many year’s ago when I regularly hosted afternoon tea on Sunday afternoons. It was always ‘demolished’ by family members!

When I found an old hand written recipe book circa 1989, there was the recipe complete with turned down page! So I decided to make it but give it an Italian, modern twist.

The original fool was made I believe for Winston Churchill who frequently dined at the exclusive Boodles Club in London.

I hope you enjoy my version but if you want to make the original version, use plain sponge cake instead of Panettone and swap Amaretto for Grande Marnier. I will work on a dairy free version which will possibly be made with coconut cream.

Janet’s Orange, Lemon and Amaretto fool


50g or a few pieces of traditional panettone broken up, enough

for 6 small glass dessert dishes.

2-3 tablespoons of Amaretto or almond liqueur

Rind and juice of 2 oranges and 2 small lemons

85grams of caster sugar

10fl ounces of double cream


Place the Panettone in a bowl and add Ameretto gently to just moisten the cake a little.

Distribute the Panettone between 6 small dessert dishes.

Grate the lemon rind and orange rind. Juice the fruit into a jug.

Add rind to the juice leaving a few pieces of the rind to decorate the tops of the desserts.

Add caster sugar to the juice and dissolve it.

Whip the double cream until it is stiff, then gently add the rind  and juice liquid until it is mixed well.

Spoon the creamy mixture into the dishes and decorate with pieces of rind.

Refridgerate for 3-4 hours or overnight. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash & Chestnut soup

I managed to pick a bag full of windfall Sweet chestnuts a couple of week’s ago. I roasted them and peeled them and after eating a few, because they were so delicious, I put half in the fridge and froze the rest.

I was contemplating cooking Chestnut risotto, however hubs isn’t keen so instead I made this wonderful hearty, autumnal soup. You could use rosemary instead of sage, spice it up with a pinch of paprika or use an onion instead of a leek.

I’m gluten and dairy intolerant so I didn’t add a swirl of sour cream, but you could and a sage leaf or sprig of rosemary.

I hope you enjoy trying out this recipe. If you can’t get fresh chestnuts I think you can by them in a pouch from the deli or supermarket.

Bespoke Oak front door…at last!

We had this beautiful solid Oak front door made for us well over a year ago. However one reason or another, our door sat at the joiners waiting for our carpenter to come and fit it. At least I had plenty of time to choose door furniture to compliment the style of the door.

The door furniture is handmade antiqued brass and is very solid! I am looking forward to decorating the front door with a festive wreath this year. Hopefully next spring I’ll design an Oak garden gate to match!



A winter armchair emerges

I’ve spent most of midsummer in the garden, temporarily abandoning rhe armchair I’ve been reupholstering. Over the last two weeks I’ve returned to Maria’s workshop to complete my project. Sometimes it’s good to give a project a rest, so you can come back with new enthusiasm and new ideas. As you can see by the picture,  the outside arms have been almost completed apart from a little bit of sewing where you can see the pins on the photo bottom left. I have also fitted the front of the seat in the beautiful ‘Moon’ wool check. One of the trickiest pieces of work was to sew the button pleats with a curved needle; my fingers became really sore and it was difficult sewing tiny stitches so that they were invisable. All done now! The next task was to fit the webbing on the seat. This is tricky because the webbing must be tightly fixed because it supports the seat and your bottom! See photo top left.

I am loving my winter armchair, it will look lovely next to John’s armchair. Next time I will be completing the fitting of the arms and making the seat. I’m getting there! And there maybe time to reupholster my footstool before Xmas.

I’m thinking about reupholstering this comfy footstool in the same ‘Abraham Moon’  check fabric. It should take half a day and will look fab in front of the new winter armchair.

Gluten Free Apple and Almond cake

cake was easy to make and tasts delicious particularly if you serve it warm from the oven. Hubby described it as being light and very tasty! I used sweet apples from my trees and a cooking apple from our tree. I liked mixing the flavours and textures. Be careful when cooking the chopped apples not to let them go to mush as you need a bit of texture. Also I think the timing of this recipe is not exact. I find Frangipane type recipes are a little experimental. 


3 medium sized eating apples

1 cooking apple

1 large lemon juice only

200g caster sugar and 100g soft brown sugar, or 300g pure golden caster sugar

8 medium eggs

325g ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon almond essence

50g flaked almonds to place on top.

Oven preheated to 180c

Bake for 40 mins then pop Iin a skewer to check if it’s cooked through. If not try checking after an extra 15mins. You may need to put foil over your cake after 30 mins.

You will need to lightly grease and line a 25cm loose bottom round tin.


1. Core, peel and chop up apples into small chunks.

2. Place apples Iin a pan with a tablespoon of water, half the lemon juice and two tablespoons of sugar.

3. Bring to the boil on a low heat and simmer covered for a few minutes until you can lightly mash the apples with a fork. Cool.

4. Put the apple puree, eggs, ground almonds, almond essence, caster sugar and the remaining lemon juice into a large bowl and blend with a hand blender.

5. Put the mixture into the prepared tin and decorate the mixture with almond slices. Place the tin on a baking tray and bake in the oven.

6. Wait until the cake has cooled and warm to touch before easing out of the tin and putting on cooling tray. Try awarm slice now with a cup of tea. 

Harvest Chutney

September has been fun in the garden, collecting crab apples, eating and cooking apples and plums from our trees. I’ve also harvested lovely Tomatoes from my five plants from which we’ve been eating daily in salads with our home grown lettuce.  Laterly I’ve made pasta sauce to freeze. In the fields surrounding Cople, on my dog walks,  we’ve enjoyed picking Elderberries and Blackberries. The Sloes are ripening nicely too, although we’ve still got plenty of Sloe gin to drink and give away.

I love the look of the hedges jumbled with tumbling blackberries and rosehips. Today the sun is shining, the tractors are ploughing the fields, the crows and blackbirds sit on bare branches watching over the landscape; hares dart about and deer run in and out of the furrows and hedges around the fields. Every day has a story to tell.

Harvest Chutney Recipe

300g onions chopped

700g plums, stoned and quartered,

350g blackberries

600g cooking apples

75g elderberries

600ml organic red wine vinegar

125g dried cranberries

350g soft light brown sugar

1tsp all spice

1tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp coriander

A pinch of sea salt

A ppinch of chilli flakes

Makes 6 x 340g jars

Keeps for 12 months


Put all the ingredients into a preserving pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring. Make sure that the sugar has dissolved.

2. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the chutney has reduced, stirring frequently. 

3. When the chutney is ready, check by drawing a wooden spoon across the surface, it should leave a trail. 

4. Pot the chtney into sterilized jars, label and date and put jars into a cool dark place for at least a few weeks before eating. 

Celebrating the cottage garden in pictures

Sorry lovely readers, this photo collage, as you will have probably guessed was originally meant to go with the previous post. Oh the joys of techical hitches! 

Enjoy! I will be out working in the garden soon planting the sage plant given to me by my dad yesterday and weeding. I also have gorgeous yellow and apricot lillies to plant in a border. As I love to do yoga stretches in my garden I am planning a serenity area. Any ideas for planting or water features are most welcome! 🙂

Celebrating our first summer

At Brown Hare cottage garden we are celebrating our first year. Last year we worked very hard getting rid of brambles and weeds. We grew flowers from seeds, planted many gifted plants and planned and created borders and a new cutting garden. As we have our bordder collies we have their interests at heart too, so there are areas they can explore. There is also a fenced vegetable garden with raised beds. Currently we have blackberry bushes, raspberry and currant bushes as well as tomatoes and courgettes.